Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving for the 22nd Summit of the Council of Heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States (SCO-CoHS) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Bilateral meeting between PM Modi and President Vladimir Putin has been announced by the Kremlin. However, there is still no confirmation about a possible meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the sidelines of the SCO summit.
At a special briefing in New Delhi, ahead of PM Modi’s departure to Uzbekistan, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra remained non committal on the possibility of bilateral meetings with leaders of China and Pakistan with PM Modi.
Responding to queries, the foreign secretary said: “Apart from the Summit activities, the Prime Minister will hold bilateral meetings with the President of Uzbekistan and ‘some other leaders’ on the sidelines of the Summit.”
During the visit of PM Modi to Samarkand at the invitation of Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, which is technically for 24 hours, bilateral meetings with the host country’s president and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi, is also on the agenda.
The foreign secretary told the media persons in response to questions about the bilateral meetings that “We would keep you apprised as along the way when the Prime Minister’s schedule of these bilateral meetings unfolds. At this stage that is all I can share with you.”
PM Modi has been leading the Indian delegation to SCO every year since India became a full member in 2017. During the Covid-19 global lockdown PM Modi participated in the summit virtually in 2020 and 2021.
There will be full physical participation of all the leaders at the SCO summit. According to the foreign secretary the Council of Heads of Government is the second most important mechanism of the SCO after the Council of Heads of States. The Council of Heads of Government deals principally with the economy, trade, and cultural agenda of the organization. Adding, “Since joining the SCO as a full member India has been making positive contributions to the SCO processes.”
About the SCO Summit
There will be two sessions: Restricted & Extended Session. During the Restricted Session the SCO member countries will be present to deliberate on various issues and at the extended session usually the observers also participate.
The discussions during the Summit will be focused on reform and expansion of SCO, regional and global issues, the security situation in the region, boosting trade and tourism as well as strengthening connectivity.
According to the FS several documents are expected to be finalized during the summit and there will be a Samarkand Declaration.
SCO is a multilateral regional organization which has eight member states including: India, Russia, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan.
PM’s Agenda in Samarkand
In his opening remarks at the special briefing, FS outlined the PM’s engagements in Samarkand.
The PM will reach that city tonight and will attend the Summit in the morning tomorrow. There will be two sessions – Restricted (Only for members) and Extended. In this the Observers will participate which includes countries like Mongolia, Belarus, Iran, Afghanistan (not invited). There will be Special guests of the chair — Turkmenistan, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia. Regional Organisations including UN, ASEAN, CIS, CSTO, CICA, and EaEU. Present in the extended session will be the heads of the two permanent bodies of SCO: Director of SCO RATS and Secretary General of the SCO Secretariat.